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Staff

Our Staff

Our International Secretariat, based in central London, is staffed by a diverse and dedicated group that administer PEN International’s campaigns, programmes, events, communications and general affairs. The International Secretariat supports PEN Centres worldwide, helping them to be active and vibrant hubs for reading and writing in their countries, and helping them to connect to one another. We work closely with the Board and Centres.

Romana Cacchioli

Executive Director

Romana Cacchioli

Executive Director

Executive Director since October 2020, Romana Cacchioli joined PEN International in March 2014 as Director of International Programmes. Today she works closely with the International Board and manages the day-to-day operations of the Secretariat based in London, with oversight of the organisations work including fundraising and programme and strategy development.

Romana has over twenty-five years’ experience working in human rights, including at Anti-Slavery International where she led their Programmes and Advocacy team in advocating for reform in law and policy and redress through national courts for those affected by slavery. As well as Programmes Coordinator with Interights the International Centre for the Protection of Human Rights where she coordinated programmes in Asia and Africa.

Carles Torner

Director Centenary Programme

Carles Torner

Director Centenary Programme

is a Catalan poet and writer. He has published seven volumes of poetry, translations of his poetry have appeared in Six Catalan Poets (2013). He has also written essays in French, among them Shoah, a Pedagogy of Memory (2002) and The Indigenous Converted Me (2003), which was co-written with the late Bishop of Chiapas, Samuel Ruiz. Torner has participated in missions for imprisoned writers in Peru, Venezuela, Kazakhstan, and Turkey —trips that gave shape to a collection of 35 letters to foreign women writers or civil society leaders titled Babel’s Arch (2005). As chair of PEN’s Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee, he conceived and promoted the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights. He was PEN International Executive Director from 2014 to 2020 and is at present the director of the PEN Centenary.

Emmanuel Asamoah

Finance, HR & Admin Director and Company Secretary

Emmanuel Asamoah

Finance, HR & Admin Director and Company Secretary

Emmanuel Asamoah ACCA/MBA/MSc joined us in 2019. He began his career as a graduate in the charity/not-for-profit sector, working across finance, fundraising, governance, compliance, strategy, HR, IT/systems and policy and then led the development of its function, running and advising businesses in these areas, establishing strong financial controls, including business partnering.

He has over 16 years of experience working for YMCA, Westway Trust, Royal Society of Arts, private entities, and as well represented a local charity at the Parliament for its grant reporting.

Emmanuel is currently a Trustee/Treasurer for AGE UK H&F and SLBI, where he leads the financial transformation and resilience agenda. He is also the Chair of the Finance, Audit and Governance Committee for both organisations.

“I am passionate about PEN’s purpose and its ability to generate value for people who are marginalise. I believe in the impact of great leadership and strong governance on organisational success and very happy working with our great PEN team.”

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Sandrine Fameni

Finance & Administration Officer

Sandrine Fameni

Finance & Administration Officer

Sandrine joined PEN in August 2010 as a part time Finance and Administration Officer. Sandrine is part of the finance team, which manages the Finance, Human Resources and the IT functions of the organisation. She has a Degree in Accountancy and also studied ACCA. Sandrine is a fluent French speaker.

Sandrine.fameni [at] pen-international.org

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Salwa Mohamed

Finance and Administration Officer

Salwa Mohamed

Finance and Administration Officer

Salwa joined PEN International in December 2015 as the Finance and Administration Officer. Salwa is part of the team that’s responsible for the Finance, Human Resources and the IT functions of the organisation. Salwa also currently works as a part time tutor for ACCA Foundation level and AAT in a college.

salwa.mohamed [at] pen-international.org

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Cathy McCann

Writers at Risk Protection Manager

Cathy McCann

Writers at Risk Protection Manager

Cathy joined PEN in 1996, working as Asia/MENA Researcher for the Writers in Prison Committee for nearly 20 years until the creation of a Protection team in 2015, which she now manages. Before joining PEN she spent two years working in southern China with the development organisation VSO, and studied at SOAS and York University.

Cathy.McCann [at] pen-international.org

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Patricia Diaz

Writers at Risk Protection Coordinator

Patricia Diaz

Writers at Risk Protection Coordinator

Patricia joined PEN International in 2007, as Research & Campaigns Assistant for Asia, MENA and Europe, for the Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) She has also assisted PEN’s work around the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in the UN, led by the WiPC’s Programme Director. She currently works providing support to persecuted writers and assisting in the development of advocacy strategies to support and protect writers at risk. Prior to joining PEN, she gained experience working for five years for the Bolivian Human Rights Ombudsman, and worked for NGOs in Bolivia, her country of origin, and in the UK. She holds an LLM degree in human rights achieved after obtaining a Chevening Scholarship.

patricia.diaz [at] pen-international.org

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Basim Mardan

Middle East and North Africa Researcher

Basim Mardan

Middle East and North Africa Researcher

Basim joined PEN International in July 2016 as Writers at Risk Protection Officer (Arabic Speaking). Basim is a former ICORN guest writer in Skien/Norway (2006-2008). Basim holds a bachelor degree in Arabic into English, English into Arabic Translation and Linguistics. In Iraq, he worked as an interpreter for the joint civil authority in Mosul, he published a book of poetry and wrote several articles for local newspapers, along with his involvement with civil society NGOs as a translator/editor and consultant.

During his stay in Norway (2006-2016) Basim Mardan published his poems and short stories in English and Norwegian alongside his constant participation in literary events and festivals. He has also cooperated as a translator with several ICORN guest writers and worked as a freelance translator/consultant for ICORN since 2009.

basim.mardan [at] pen-international.org

Olha Mukha

Congress, Committees, and New Centres Manager

Olha Mukha

Congress, Committees, and New Centres Manager

Olha is Ukrainian philosopher, cultural manager, curator, and editor. She joined PEN Secretariat in 2018 after leading successful PEN International Congress preparation in Lviv in 2017.

She chaired the Office of Lviv – City of literature UNESCO in Ukraine and worked as an academic researcher and university professor in Lviv and Kyiv Universities. Olha studied philosophy and law, focused on constitutional law and advocacy. Author of two books and academical publications.

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Cathal Sheerin

Protection Coordinator (Global)

Cathal Sheerin

Protection Coordinator (Global)

Cathal has been working on writers’ and journalists’ protection across all regions for PEN International since 2020. He re-joined PEN as the Africa Programme Coordinator in September 2018. Previously, he was the Researcher and Campaigner for Europe (2013-2015) and the Researcher and Campaigner for the Americas and Africa (2011-2012). Cathal has several years' experience working in journalism, free expression and human rights. He has postgraduate qualifications in journalism and literature. He is also the International, Europe and Central Asia editor at the global free expression network, IFEX.

Ginevra Avalle

Archives Collection Manager

Ginevra Avalle

Archives Collection Manager

Ginevra is a researcher, curator and archivist with several years' experience working in the promotion of private collections. She joined PEN in 2018 and is in charge of managing, curating and promoting the Centenary Exhibition of the PEN archive collection.

Ginevra has worked on different projects in a variety of environments ranging from private foundations and educational institutions, international organisations, to academia. She holds a MA in Archival and Library Science from the University of Florence.

Alicia Quinones

Americas Regional Programme Coordinator

Alicia Quinones

Americas Regional Programme Coordinator

Alicia is a Mexican writer, journalist and editor. For the past fifteen years she has contributed to leading newspapers, magazines and television programmes throughout Latin America. She joined PEN International as the Latin American Consultant in 2018, and as a Regional Coordinator for the Americas in 2020. She volunteered in the organisation for six years beforehand where she researched and advocated for cases in Mexico. Alicia studied literature and journalism, which focused on the Laws to do with access to Information. She is the author of three books.

alicia.quinones@pen-international.org

Nduko o'Matigere

Africa Regional Programme Coordinator

Nduko o'Matigere

Africa Regional Programme Coordinator

Nduko is a Kenyan social justice and human rights activist, civil society generalist. Before joining the PEN Secretariat in July 2020, he consulted with diverse civil society and donor programmes in Africa on program development; capacity strengthening; action research; strategy formulation, evaluations and learning support; and resource mobilization. Nduko studied Education, Literature, Linguistics; and Governance and Leadership.

Ross Holder

Asia Regional Programme Coordinator

Ross Holder

Asia Regional Programme Coordinator

Previously working as an academic at Trinity College Dublin, Ross has an established expertise on the human rights situation in Xinjiang and strengths and weaknesses of the United Nations Human Rights System. Recent academic publications include articles in the International Journal of Human Rights and Religion and Human Rights.

Ross has also been involved with a number of human rights NGOs, including Amnesty International, Front Line Defenders and the Scholars at Risk Network, working on a wide range of human rights issues.

Mina Thabet

Regional Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa

Mina Thabet

Regional Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa

Mina Thabet is an Egyptian human rights defender, activist, researcher, and writer who has been working passionately to promote freedom of expression in the Middle East since 2011. He has worked with minority communities to combat discrimination and violence against religious and ethnic minorities and promote diverse cultures, languages, and religious freedoms. Throughout his career and studies, Mina acquired established expertise on the human rights situation in the MENA region, especially in Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, and Libya. He joined PEN International in December 2020 as the MENA Regional Coordinator. His vision for PEN’s work in the MENA region focuses on celebrating and promoting diversity and providing young writers with new platforms and opportunities.

Aurélia Dondo'

Europe Programme Coordinator

Aurélia Dondo'

Europe Programme Coordinator

Aurélia is responsible for developing and implementing strategies to combat freedom of expression violations in Europe and Central Asia through research, campaigning and advocacy, with a view to supporting writers at risk.

Prior to joining PEN International, Aurélia worked with Amnesty International in London, including as campaigner in the Middle East and North Africa programme, and coordinated numerous campaigns on behalf of journalists persecuted for peacefully expressing their views.

Paul Julien

Head of Development

Paul Julien

Head of Development

Paul Julien has been a charity fundraiser for 20 years and joined PEN in May 2020, following 10 years at a Palestinian NGO. He has worked with Oxfam, Freedom from Torture, and Prisoners Abroad. He holds a Master’s Degree in Critical Theory and before university worked as a professional writer and musician. He is currently working on a collection for a small poetry press.

Portia Vanderplank-Jones

Events & Fundraising Officer

Portia Vanderplank-Jones

Events & Fundraising Officer

After her MA in French at the University of St Andrews, Portia built on her knowledge of human rights and belief in social justice through her studies of International Women’s Health and Human Rights at Stanford University.

Portia’s career in the charitable sector has spanned events, communications, and fundraising. Supporting and driving the work of organisations such as Love146, The Girl Effect, Bookmark Reading Charity, and here at PEN International, she is dedicated to working with partners and supporters to increase engagement, awareness, and funding so that together we can make a real difference.

Pavlo Bilyk

Events & Data Officer

Pavlo Bilyk

Events & Data Officer

Pavlo was responsible for digital and website support in a team organizing the 83rd PEN International Congress in Lviv in 2017. He has also been involved in organization of numerous cultural and scientific events in Ukraine and France. Pavlo studied architecture and urban sociology, focusing on sustainable approaches of cities hosting mega-events.

Natalia Melychuk

Technical support

Natalia Melychuk

Technical support

Natalia briefly joined the PEN 2020 Congress team as a content editor. This year she will be responsible for the Centenary Congress website and technical support.

Natalia worked for various Ukrainian media outlets as a journalist and editor, she was a producer of a travel show in Ukraine, guest relations manager at a diving resort in Indonesia, and a tourist guide in Chornobyl. She worked as a researcher for a Ukrainian NGO that was advocating European integration of Ukraine and as a program officer at a Prague-based NGO that was working on the development of digital and investigative media in the post-Soviet countries. Natalia studied journalism in Kyiv (Ukraine) and European Studies in Lund (Sweden) and has always been keen on human rights and press freedom.

Veronica Maza

Digital Consultant for the Americas and Caribbean

Veronica Maza

Digital Consultant for the Americas and Caribbean

Veronica is a Mexican journalist, writer and gender educator. For the past thirty years she has worked in many media as editor, reporter, researcher, host and broadcaster. She teaches classes, workshops and conferences about literature, journalism, feminism and sexuality, focusing her work on human rights. In recent years she has specialized in the digital age and online platforms. She is the author of seven books.

In 2020, she joined to PEN International as Digital Consultant for the Americas and Caribbean.

veronica.maza@pen-international.org

Maria Botella

Digital Consultant for the Civil Society Programme

Maria Botella

Digital Consultant for the Civil Society Programme

Maria joined Pen International as Digital Consultant for the Civil Society Programme in 2020. Her main duties include supporting English and French speaking PEN Centres to increase their digital capacity and online presence as well as increasing the visibility of PEN International’s Civil Society Programme. She is an environmental and social justice advocate and activist. In the past, she worked for online campaigning and environmental organisations with a focus on campaign communication. Previous experience also includes working for digital cultural institutions and developing research on how to capture and analyse online data to identify informal charitable activity.

Maria.BT@pen-international.org

Sabrina Tucci

Communications and Campaigns Manager

Sabrina Tucci

Communications and Campaigns Manager

Sabrina joined PEN International in October 2020. Prior to that, she worked for over a decade at the International Secretariat of Amnesty International where, in her latest role, she was Amnesty’s Corporate Campaigner, focusing on business and human rights Issues. During her time at Amnesty, Sabrina also researched and campaigned on refugees and migrants’ rights issues and on the abolition of the death penalty.

Sabrina has extensive field work experience in the MENA region, Africa and Europe. Among others, she served in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as human rights monitor and advocate on behalf of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel.

Sabrina has published articles and essays on different human rights issues in both academic journals and mainstream media. She holds a Master’s Degree in Refugee Studies from City, University of London.

Sabrina.Tucci@pen-international.org